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Showing posts from December, 2011

Double-Crested Cormorant

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Cormorants are fun birds. I frequently see them dive for and catch fish, though they are always so far away that I don't have any presentable photographs of them fishing.  But Cormorants by themselves, I think make for pretty fun photos as well.

A Birding Year in Review 2011

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As 2011 draws to a close, I thought it would be good to look back over the year and look at the progress in birding I've made.  In 2010, I started recording every species I observe in eBird, and that has been a great help to me to remember what I've seen where.  I recorded 92 new species in 2011. Now most of these are not true "lifers;" I'd seen most of them before, but I did not have any documentation of them.  As best I can tell, though, I had about 37 lifers this year.

Here's my eBird lifer list for 2011, including where and when I saw them.
1Red-breasted MerganserCocoa12/17/20112Blue-headed VireoCocoa12/17/20113Snail KiteKaliga Park11/18/20114Eurasian WigeonMerritt Island NWR--Black Point Drive11/15/20115Sedge WrenOrlando Wetlands Park -- Birding Loop11/12/20116Painted BuntingOrlando Wetlands Park11/12/20117Ruby-crowned KingletLake Lotus Park10/29/20118Cape May WarblerLake Lotus Park10/29/20119Prairie WarblerLake Lotus Park10/29/201110Fulvous Whistling-D…

Black-Bellied Plover

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On the day after Christmas, I went to Merritt Island, and by the first parking area, there were hundreds of shorebirds.  Most of them were Dunlin, but scattered through the crowd were several Black-Bellied Plovers (along with Dowitchers, Avocets and Turnstones).  This particular morning yielded some of my best photos of the Black-bellied Plovers.  Initially, the cloud-cover was making for some bland photos, but the light improved momentarily, and with the calm water I was able to get some nice reflections. Interestingly, you can really tell the difference between the quality of light when the sun is out from behind the clouds (notice the last two for photos when the sun is behind cloud cover).  When the light isn't quite right, check the sky; you may find that your light will improve for you if you wait.

Birds in Flight

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November 12th was a great day for photographing birds in flight at Orlando Wetlands Park.  Here's some of my favorites from the day


Telephoto Landscapes

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When we hear the word "landscape," we often think first of expansive scenery shot with a wide angle lens.   I often carry a wide angle lens with me to shoot landscapes when I'm out looking for wildlife.  But there's no rule that says a landscape can't cover a very small area, shot with a telephoto lens.  So here's a few landscapes shot with a 400mm telephoto lens. In the first two, the subject was close, so the landscape covers a very small area.  But on the third, the subject was very far away, so a telephoto lens was required to get the shot.

Anhinga and a Catfish

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On December 23rd, I was at Viera Wetlands, and I saw an Anhinga capture a catfish.  I found it interesting how it prepared the fish for eating.  After piercing the fish with its bill, it scraped both sides of the head of the fish against the rock to remove the barbels.  He worked on the fish for several minutes, and unfortunately, I had to leave before he consumed it.

Environmental Portraits of Birds

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When photographing birds, I usually want to get as close to the bird as possible to fill the frame, or nearly fill the frame, with the bird.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with this, but many times I notice that the bird's environment is just as beautiful as the bird itself. Birds, after all, live in environments, and so the bird's environment can help you be interpretive of your subject.  So when you notice that a bird's environment is particularly beautiful or interpretive, zoom out a little (or don't crop so tightly) and let the bird live in the wild.



Merritt Island, 12/26/2011

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Yesterday I went to Merritt Island with my son, and we went to the Pumphouse Loop, Blackpoint Dr., and Biolab Rd.  We first went to the Pumphouse Loop. Things were pretty slow here. Highlights for me were 11 Bufflehead off in the distance, 20 American Avocet, and numerous Willet, Dunlin, Short-Billed Dowitchers, and Laughing Gulls.  We also saw flyovers of Reddish Egrets and Hooded Mergensers.  On a sadder note, we saw one dead coot and one dead vulture on the ground, uneaten.  I have no idea what happened to them.


Next we went to Blackpoint Drive.  Things picked up significantly here.  We saw a hundreds of American Widgeon and Northern Pintail in flight, though they were too far away for me to see if there were any Eurasion Widgeons in the mix.  At the first parking lot there were hundreds of shorebirds, mostly Dunlin, but there were many Black-Bellied Plover, American Avocet, Willet, with a few Dowitchers, at least 5 Lesser Yellowlegs and 1 Ruddy Turnstone in the mix.  We also saw …

Reddish Egret

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Yesterday I went to Merritt Island, and between the Pumphouse Loop and Blackpoint Dr. I saw 8 Reddish Egrets.  That by itself is not unusual.  But yesterday I saw my first white morph Reddish Egret.  So I thought I'd take a few of my Reddish Egret photos from yesterday and share them with you.  It was a cloudy day yesterday, and the  egrets were not cooperative with me on the lighting situation, so the water isn't all pretty like it usually is when I shoot at Merritt Island.  But these egrets did pose well for me, so I figured I'd include several photos of Reddish Egrets in both there "reddish" and white morphs.